Using GIFs to Make Vocabulary Learning Fun!

Using GIFs to Make Vocabulary Learning Fun!

post by Jamie Utecht, 2018-19 Associate of The Educator Collaborative

Using GIFs to Make Vocabulary Learning Fun!

The idea to use GIFs to teach academic vocabulary to my middle schoolers came from an idea shared on one of the Facebook pages I am on.  A teacher had posted the idea of using GIFs to teach character traits. When I saw that, a light bulb went on in my brain that I needed to use GIFs to teach vocabulary to my middle schoolers!

Although I love using technology, there are times when I just need a little support with the technical side of things.  This is where our technology coach came into play. I called our technology coach, told him my idea, and asked for some help. He gladly offered to support me, and our videos turned out amazing! The best part? Our students were truly learning the vocabulary! I will share our process below.


  1. First I created a powerpoint presentation with our vocabulary words on it.  We used the process laid out by Robert Marzano (2005) to teach the words. First, we asked the students to rate how well they knew the word before teaching (this was done in a vocabulary journal).  Next, we taught the word using a simple definition, a context sentence, and an image. Then, we had them write their own definition of the word in their journals. An example is shown below.
  2. After students wrote their definitions, we talked about how we were going to act out our words.  We demonstrated what that would look like then talked about how important it was to plan out what our acting would look like.  This is where our storyboards came into play. The students drew out their actions before it was their turn to act for a video. 
  3. After they drew everything out, it was time to film!  We used our storyboards to plan out what props we would need and where we would need to film.  The technology coach and I helped them in this process and then filmed them.
  4. My coach helped me find an amazing website ( that made creating GIFs easy.  All we had to do was upload our videos to the website and our GIFs were created within a matter of seconds.  It was so cool.
  5. Once they were created, we shared as a group!  It was so much fun celebrating the hard work put into creating our GIFs.  They couldn’t wait to start this process again with a new set of words!


Marzano, R.J., & Pickering, D.J. (2005).  Building Academic Vocabulary: Teacher’s manual. 

Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.